letter to the editor: recreation

It is with great disappointment that I read in this morning’s paper that the Mt. Lebanon Commission again failed to find a way to advance a workable plan to improve our community’s recreation infrastructure ( http://triblive.com/home/2416636-74/lebanon-recreation-commission-fraasch-improvements-municipal-parks-bond-commissioners-fields ).  To be honest, I’m embarrassed of our facilities and the community’s inability to invest in our future.  Since becoming a Mt. Lebanon resident over five years ago, I’ve staunchly defended it as a great place to live—particularly with a young family.  I still firmly believe that to be the case, but as my children grow older and become more active in recreation programs, I’m starting to question.  Particularly when I see the lack of commitment by the municipality to do what needs to be done to keep our community vibrant and attractive to families—which are vital to keeping a community healthy.

The commission’s efforts to invest in “hidden” infrastructure, such as our storm and sanitary sewer systems while also keeping up with the equally important road maintenance and delivering other municipal services are commendable.  But this is not enough to keep our community healthy and growing.  Families don’t move to communities because of good sewers, roads or trash collection; they move to top rated school districts in communities that offer safe, attractive places for the kids to swim, play ball and enjoy nature.  The Mt. Lebanon School Board made the tough decision, based on well-founded analysis from their staff and experts, to invest in the future of our children. It was a tough decision, but they worked hard and the high school renovation project is under way.  Unfortunately, it appears that the municipality, despite years of analysis and discussion, can’t do the same.  This unwillingness to make a decision may result from fear of being criticized by the vocal minority, or it may be due to distraction with less important but chronic issues such as the deer population, which I must assume find our community particularly welcoming as compared to neighboring communities, based on the amount of media coverage and discussion at commission meetings (and special meetings) deer get in Mt. Lebanon.)

These remarks may seem particularly pointed, but I don’t have much choice. As a member of the silent majority—young, working, busy families who don’t have the time to attend every commission meeting and write dozens of emails—I have less opportunity to impress upon you the importance of this issue.  It is the silent majority that is the heartbeat of the community.  Although a population that is diverse in age is important, families are the common denominator behind every community that is thriving.  And more than any other segment of the population, families are mobile.  They can choose where they live—and there are lots of communities in this region that will welcome them with open arms (and safe, attractive parks).

Thanks to the commission for taking a leadership role in our community.  Thanks also to the municipal staff; which does wonderful things with limited resources, behind the scenes, and under constant scrutiny.  Parks are important to my family, other families in Mt. Lebanon, and families that are thinking about moving here.  Please find a way to make us proud of our recreation system again.  And let me know if there is anything I can do to help you get there.

John K. Trant

Sandrae Drive


Editor’s Note:  Mr. Trant is the chief strategy officer for Cranberry Township in Butler County.